Fairways And Roughs Title

Going big at home

By PGA Tour News
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While her husband Aaron heads to the range for a practice session, Richelle Baddeley drives their four children to their home in Scottsdale, Arizona, the family having just attended a school function for one of the girls. The kids are aged between two and eight. Richelle is just weeks away from the due date of baby number five. The youngest, Josiah, is pulling a sibling’s hair as Richelle eloquently explains the ups and downs of life on the PGA TOUR with a large family. Then a goldfish cracker flies at the back of her head. Not maliciously. Kids being kids, that’s all. Seamlessly she transitions to her calm, yet stern, mom voice and asks her son not to do what he is doing. There are no audible tears so one can only assume her wish is granted. It’s a rare week where Richelle and the tribe are not on the road with her husband, who is in between starts. Yet she handles it with aplomb – and without a nanny or extra help. You will often see the Baddeley clan climbing aboard a Southwest flight to their next destination, or wrestling with car seats in a rental. The older kids, Jewel and Jolee, have an accommodating school which allows Richelle to teach them on the road. At the moment, it is a dynamic that is working for them. But whether that will continue is always a fluid situation. “I think both sides, no matter which one you choose, it's a separation from your family if you choose to stay home, which would be so hard, and if you choose to travel, there is just a lot of chaos, a lot of throwing up on planes, being sick in airports, delays that people don't see,” Richelle explains. “The best part is just being able to travel together as a family and developing that family unit together, as crazy as it may be. Just to be together and have that unique closeness and bond of a family that maybe we wouldn't have had if we didn't travel together, pretty much 80 percent of the time. “And my kids enjoy watching Aaron. They are getting to a good age. So that makes it fun for me that I'm not dragging them like when they were babies, to the course. It's fun for them.”  It’s also a challenge for the parents, to be sure. A challenge that Aaron and Richelle have embraced. Aaron has one TOUR win for each of his kids. With the fifth one on the way, he now has even more incentive to chase win No. 5. “Five is a lot of kids,” he says. “I’m going to go buy myself a snorkel to make sure I don’t drown.” With big families on the PGA TOUR come big decisions. It is a constant juggle. Lots of TOUR stars have kids, some more than others. Some can afford to take big moments off – Jason Day missed an Open Championship for the birth of his first child and wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last, player to do so. Phil Mickelson is running out of time to win a U.S. Open – he’s finished second on six occasions -- and complete the career grand slam. But he will forego the chance next week in order to be at his daughter’s high school graduation. Amanda Mickelson is the eldest of Phil’s three children. She was captain of her school’s basketball, tennis and lacrosse teams and is student-body president. She will give the commencement address for her graduation ceremony in Carlsbad California, on June 15, the same day the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin gets under way. And Phil, and his wife Amy, wouldn’t miss it for anything. “There are certain things you need to be there for,” Phil says. Lots of players miss birthdays or friend’s weddings and other important events. And anyone who has children, even just one, knows the difficulty of raising a family. Kids will always be kids. Babies will take away your sleep. Toddlers will always get sick at inopportune times. Or have a meltdown over nothing… in public. Pre-teens will have issues, teens will have greater ones. When you add constant travel and time away from home - such is the PGA TOUR life - this battle becomes an even bigger puzzle. Sure, TOUR winners generally have plenty of income to provide a lifestyle above the norm but not everyone wins in golf. And money does not buy precious face-to-face time. So, no matter how you slice it, having multiple kids while trying to perform at an elite level is one heck of a juggling act. Figuring out the right path as a parent is hard enough with one child. But what of these TOUR stars who have large families. Just how do they make it work? The key for Baddeley, and for other dads with lots of kids, is invariably the wives. They are the real rocks behind these families. Yes, the men work their tails off at their craft and bring in the big money, but these ladies run the show. Without them, chaos might rein.  Earlier this season Alayna Finau, wife to Tony, sat in the lobby of the Waialae Country Club clubhouse with her four children. The quartet is clearly buzzing with happiness to be on a Hawaiian vacation. Sitting still is not an option for the kids aged five and under. But a quick word, a caring but firm look, and they stay inside the boundaries of decorum. “I have a great wife. I have a supportive wife. That's really the keystone and the cornerstone to our family, and really that's how it runs,” Tony admits. “That's how I can do what I do. I have a wife that is willing to take on the role of a mother and do that with a lot of patience and love.” There is no doubt Alayna is an amazing woman. She’s tolerant. Caring. Encouraging. And many other great superlatives most mothers are. Tony says his family travels roughly 10 times a year. Given he played 28 times last season, 31 the year before, and is already at 19 events to this point this season, it ends up being around a third of his tournaments. They tend to pick places like Hawaii for the beaches, Los Angeles for Hollywood, or Orlando for Disneyland … places where the kids can have fun. Alayna or Tony are well versed in family matters. She’s one of five children. Tony is one of nine. They could be considered experts. As is common in Polynesian families, they are part of a larger “village” full of countless cousins and close family. Tony says he has 55 first cousins. His grandfather is juggling 66 grandchildren. “I love that we have big families, I'm never alone,” Alayna grins.  “When he's gone, there's probably like five or six people staying with me in the house, but I love it, and it makes the time go faster until he comes home. I love the way our culture is.” And of course, as they continue to grow, the Finau kids will always have each other. “Four of my siblings, two older, two younger, I'm very close with, not only in age but just in the way of life,” Tony says.  “Seems like we all get along. We get each other. We all have our differences, but just having that close‑knit in age and just growing up together, we have the memories together. “I am happy my kids will have the same type of situation.” After Baddeley won the Genesis Open in 2011, he celebrated by painting his daughter’s nails. When he won the Barbasol Championship last season, all four kids were in attendance and they celebrated by having shaving cream fights. Fun times for sure. Of course, some of the times are not as fun. Like the time Jeremiah, just an infant, had a respiratory virus during the old Florida swing. He was quiet on the long drive from one tournament to the next and when they noticed his lips were blue and he wasn’t looking himself, an emergency trip to the hospital was needed. Pneumonia in an infant is not fun. Especially when you are a long way from home. “I slept in the hospital for a couple days,” Richelle recalls. “And then we had one daughter that broke her wrist at Reno, and I got the call and took all the kids to the ER, figuring it's no big deal, she probably just sprained it, and Aaron after a seven‑hour day, Aaron called me and said, hey, babe, I missed you, where are you, and I said, well, we're sitting here almost done at ER getting a bone put back into place. “But it is all just part of the life.” Oh and for the record – Richelle has wrestled with a condition during her pregnancies that has left her on 20 weeks or so of bedrest during them all. At the moment the Baddeleys believe the life will continue as it is going, although they admit the thought of less travel is something they have to at least entertain. Sean O’Hair’s four kids travel less now as they are school aged and have chosen to establish roots. The Finaus are expecting to do the same. But others choose the home school route. Aaron loves the current dynamic but says if he travelled like this as a child, he may not have become the golfer he is today. “At some point it'll be good for the kids to start getting involved. Like Josie loves gymnastics and Jeremiah loves his soccer, so allowing them to be involved with that stuff is going to be important, too,” Aaron says.  “You want to make sure they have their opportunities to do what they want to do.” Richelle admits they seem to constantly be playing “catch up” with family and friends. But she makes it work. And she’s not ready to change things up just yet. For Daniel Summerhays, the changing dynamic could even see him find retirement early. He also has four kids but his eldest, Jack Daniel, now nine, wants to play in his own golf tournaments. That becomes difficult if he’s on the road. Summerhays used to cart his family around in a motorhome to keep them close but now it’s the routine of flights and hotels. If it needs to change, he’s not sure how he will cope emotionally. “It can be a difficult family job, professional golf. It puts a lot of strain on my wife. It puts a lot of strain in my heart, sometimes, too, when I'm not able to be there and help teach them and be with them because they are my life. They'll come first, no matter what,” he says with a clear lump in his throat. “I don't know how much longer I'll play professional golf. I honestly don't. Because if my family needs me to be there, I will. “There may be a time when the family can't travel around with me as much and I don't know how I'll be able to handle that in my heart because I'm a dad first and foremost. “It's something that was instilled in me when I was a young boy. I'm the youngest of seven kids and family is a big deal. My parents have given everything for me and I'll do anything for my kids, as well.” Summerhays took the 54-hole lead last weekend at the Memorial Tournament as he nears 10 years since turning professional. He was unable to close the deal and remains winless on the PGA TOUR. Despite the lack of trophies, he says it’s all been worth it. “I'm really satisfied with where I'm at,” he says. “We've already succeeded because our relationships are still strong. As long as that can maintain, I'll keep playing golf. “But we've had to adapt every year. Every year is a new challenge.” Amazing wives and mothers in certainly not a new phenomenon on TOUR. Jack Nicklaus has five children and he managed to become arguably the greatest golfer of all time. He says wife Barbara is the real hero. “She understood what I had to do. She also understood that I wanted my kids not to grow up not knowing their dad,” Nicklaus says. “She knew that if she didn't bring them to golf tournaments and be with them that they wouldn't be able to spend as much time. And she wanted them to know what I did and what my life was. “I never came home on Monday and had to be the bad guy. Barbara always took care of that for me. She didn't want me to come home and be a disciplinarian, and have the kids mad at me for three or four days and leave for another tournament. So I was blessed with a special wife. “And so it wasn't any big magical deal to me. Golf is a game and it's only a game. My family was far more important and that's what I was here for. Golf was my vehicle to support them.” Nicklaus hammers home the point about not being the bad guy. One of the hardest things for these dads can be not bringing any on course troubles home with them. O’Hair admits he’s still, to this day, trying to be better at it. His eldest is 12 and youngest six. “I struggle turning it off. When golf is not good, it is hard to put a smile on your face and be all there,” O’Hair says. “But I think that is normal for anyone who is competitive. That’s life, isn’t it?” Baddeley also is trying to get better at that. So he concentrates on making sure his kids all get their own separate attention – as well as time as a group. “At times I walk through the door and all four of them are like daddy, daddy, daddy. I have to be – OK, all right, one at a time,” he says.  “Josiah, you're the youngest, you start first. That's probably the biggest challenge is just making sure that each kid gets enough attention that they need because each kid needs attention to feel like they're loved.” Finau says the great thing about kids is they can bring you back down to earth quick as a wink, and take away any worries even if only for a while. “I love being a dad. I'm a dad and a husband and a father before anything else I do in life, and I think my children love me unconditionally,” he says. “It seems like it doesn't matter if I play a great round or if I haven't… they love me. I'm still their dad. They still want to hear about everything that I've done and my day. “And seriously, it doesn’t get much better than that. They'll humble you no matter what.” When the Baddeleys have their fifth kid – likely this week – they will become the leaders in the clubhouse in terms of most children on TOUR among active players. And Richelle isn’t ready to back down. She won’t rule out more even though Aaron makes her document the struggles during her pregnancies. Perhaps, in the long run, though, it will be the Finau family that takes the title. “Multiply and replenish the earth is something that we definitely believe in, and we obviously haven't held back,” he says. “We have four beautiful kids. “Don't be surprised if we have a couple more at least.”


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